Gen Z cop a lot of flack. But they could very well be the ones that change the legal world as we know it. And for the better.
How? Well Gen Zer’s, typically defined as those born in the mid-1990s to mid-2000s, have completely different expectations of what they want out of a career and out of work. Their priorities are very different, especially compared with the baby boomers who are leading a lot of the workforce at the moment.
According to social researcher, Claire Madden, Gen Zer’s desire to have a purposeful, meaningful life and make the world a better place. "Gen Z are starting out their careers saying ‘this is a high priority, we want to change the world." Whereas other generations didn’t give themselves the luxury of thinking like that until they’d worked for three decades.”
Claire is widely regarded as a leading voice on multi-generational engagement and emerging social trends. She’s also a keynote presenter, TEDx speaker, media commentator and business communicator.
According to Claire, Gen Zer’s will be the most formally educated generation, but are not as oriented by the lure of of big salaries and houses, like the generations before them. “Gen Z view being successful as being able to make a difference, have an impact, they do want a career, it’s not a linear career, but they do want a sense of success and to be able to buy a home, embrace opportunities and make a meaningful contribution, but they see that there is more to life than just work. They want to have the freedom and flexibility to travel and experience life as well.”
Being exposed to huge shifts in technology has also played a massive role in creating the current mindset of Gen Zer’s. According to Claire, “the desire to grow and change is hard wired into them because they’ve seen such disruption. They’ve seen whole business models change because of disruptive innovation. They don't expect jobs to look like they’ve always looked. They’ve seen the increase in computerisation and automation. They’ve seen new jobs be created with all the technology that’s happened in their lifetime. They prioritise job flexibility and job mobility rather than job stability.”
“They’re not afraid of change. They’ll go where they feel their skills can be best utilised because they fear irrelevance. As soon as they feel they’re getting stuck or something hasn’t changed, they will want to shift and move and keep growing,” says Claire.
“Gen Z approach things and ask, ‘is that the most efficient way to have the biggest impact’ and they are so agile and quick at migrating. They can see new ways of doing things and efficiencies and they are not afraid to forge new paths.”
Claire joined us on the podcast recently to discuss all of this in detail. We covered the characteristics of Gen Z, areas where they excel, areas where they may be lacking, the elements that have shaped them, and, ultimately, how they can change the legal profession and how it needs to change with them.
As well as: defining the characteristics of Gen Z; how technology has formulated a more collaborative new generation; what it means to say Gen Z is ‘very relational’; why job mobility and flexibility matter more now than stability; why attitudes have casualised toward work; the areas where Gen Z is lacking and need to professionally develop; how legal employers can begin catering to the new generation; why Gen Z has such a strong desire to be social and make a positive change, what future legal clients look like and why Gen Z carries a currency and a relevancy that matters now. You can listen to the podcast here.
So what do these generational shifts mean in a legal context? Well for starters the introduction of the likes of Lexoo, A & O Peerpoint, Lawlancer and Helix Legal who all offer unique work opportunities.
Lexoo's Australian launch follows the introduction of disruptive legal technology platforms that provide the opportunity to work as a freelance lawyer.
"We never aim to have hundreds of lawyers on the platform. We meet with every lawyer, check their expertise, practising status, insurance and former clients, and once they're [on the] platform they are rated and reviewed by every client they work for," said Lexoo Australia managing director David Bushby.
"I don't make money from the number of lawyers being on the platform, so I'm not incentivised to put more lawyers on the platform. If I can get to the point where the vast majority of lawyers are actively engaged I would be happy, as opposed to having 1000 lawyers and having only 50 of them engaged."
Peerpoint is Allen & Overy’s global platform for self-directed consultant lawyers who want to access to high level clients and work, and a goal network of bespoke support and resources. For clients, Peerpoint offers a way to access a panel of top tier, senior lawyers who have the skills and expertise to work with their business’ legal and compliance teams with the support of Allen & Overy, and for lawyers it provides enormous flexibility.
LawLancer connects legal service providers with legally inclined minds on a freelance basis. Lawyers need research undertaken and students need experience. LawLancer allows a legal provider of any size to connect with many students in a way that is flexible and can fit around study. They pride themselves on training and developing the new thinkers. The next generation of lawyers about to hit the workforce.
Helix Legal are a construction and energy sector specialist law firm. A focus on how technology and the law can be better used together and developing innovative legal-tech products, have seen Helix Legal elevate within the industry.
"Outside of law and construction technology is something that is used really commonly, but the legal industry has been a bit slower to take up some of those things," says co-founder Janelle Kerrisk.
"We have been able to embrace it. It means being able to work collaboratively on documents in real time, with clients in Germany and law clerks in Paris."
With all the change they’ve already brought about within the industry, we’re excited to see what other changes are on the way as the industry harnesses the Gen Z world view and continues to adapt and reshape.
Join the bustle of the Gen Zer's! Sign up to BB Change now and embrace the collaborative, dynamic industry law is morphing into. Access the pre-sign up here.